On this day in 1881 – (135 years ago) — the area in and around Moradabad, in northern India, experienced a terrifying storm that battered houses and farms with highly destructive winds and pelted the countryside with hailstones reportedly the size of oranges. Since no severe weather warning systems existed at the time, many farmers were working in their fields when the storm struck, and were instantly killed by the huge hailstones. Once the storm died down, the hail was piled two feet high on the ground in some places. Two hundred forty-six people were killed, along with thousands of farm animals.
On this day in 1900 – (116 years ago) — Casey Jones, an engineer for the Illinois Central Railroad, was killed when his passenger train, the Cannonball Express, plowed into the rear end of a stalled freight train near Vaughan, Mississippi. It was a foggy night and Jones had been running his train at top speed, trying to make up for lost time, when he rounded a curve and saw the stalled freight ahead of him on the main line. Shouting to his fireman to jump from the train, Jones blew his whistle, reversed the throttle, and slammed on his air brake. It was just enough to slow the Cannonball Express from seventy-five to thirty-five miles an hour before it slammed into the freight train’s caboose. Both trains were heavily damaged, the fireman who jumped from the train was knocked unconscious, and a few other people were slightly injured. But most passengers on the Cannonball Express felt only a sudden bump that awoke them in their sleeping cars. The only person killed in the accident was Casey Jones himself. Folk singers would go on to celebrate him as a hero for having given his life to save his passengers. The IWW activist Joe Hill, however, would write and sing a very different tune that denounced Jones as a scab for having refused to join a strike against the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi